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How B2B Suppliers Build Enduring Supplier Relationships

Learn how suppliers build long-lasting B2B relationships with transparency, eProcurement integration, and automation.

b2b relationshipsHow Suppliers Build Enduring B2B Relationships in 2021

80% of B2B buyers have switched from suppliers who failed to meet their expectations, according to a recent study by professional services provider Accenture. The survey covered a two-year period, and the most common reasons buyers gave for ending B2B relationships will come as no surprise: uncompetitive pricing, long lead times, and missed delivery dates.

However, buyers increasingly cite inadequate technology and an unwillingness to adapt sales processes to buyers’ digital procurement needs. As 2021 comes to a close, buyer perceptions of B2B relationships are heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruptions and the role digital procurement played in overcoming them. 

Top complaints include:

  • Complicated procurement processes (23%),
  • Lack of integration between sales channels (20%),
  • A poor website (15%),
  • Insistence on using a sales rep for all purchases (15%).

Suppliers who don’t take buyers’ technology requirements seriously risk upsetting long-established B2B relationships and losing new business to forward-looking competitors.

What Makes a Good B2B Relationship?

B2B buyers make decisions based on rational, quantifiable criteria. Price is key, as are reliability, product quality, product range, warranties, and support. All remain essential components of enduring B2B relationships. But buyers also want suppliers to modernize.

Historically, most interactions between buyers and suppliers were handled by the supplier’s sales team. Today, buyers are much less willing to rely on sales reps. They want self-service solutions that offer an experience equivalent to consumer shopping.

A McKinsey survey conducted in late 2020 underlines this point. Fewer than 30% of buyers want to interact with sales departments. 99% said they were happy to purchase through a digital self-serve channel, even for larger purchases.

In addition to competing on price, products, and lead times, suppliers must offer the purchasing experience buyers want. Enduring B2B relationships may depend on the quality of your digital sales channel. But what does the ideal digital sales platform look like in 2021?

4 Strategies for Building Better Supplier Relationships

Enduring B2B relationships are built on buyer-centered digital purchasing experiences. In 2021, that means eCommerce, eProcurement, and integration that supports procurement automation features that include PunchOut catalogs, purchase order automation, and electronic invoicing.

1. Transparency

When buyers wanted to make a purchase, they used to pick up the phone and call a prospective supplier’s sales team. Today, they expect to access product information in the same way they access other information—via the web.

Buyers want information transparency. Product details, pricing, discounts, policies, lead times, and more should be available online.

Transparency is one of B2B eCommerce’s strengths. An eCommerce store with B2B-friendly features provides the detail, transparency, and flexibility buyers demand. eCommerce is also the foundation of a digitized, integrated B2B purchasing experience.

2. Digitization

B2B buyers adopt eProcurement platforms like Coupa and Jaggaer to digitize and centralize procurement. eProcurement helps buyers to reduce procurement costs, eliminate rogue spending, and ensure employees adhere to procurement policies.

However, many eProcurement features depend on supplier cooperation: they only work when the buyer’s eProcurement system is integrated with the supplier’s eCommerce store.

3. Integration

eProcurement integration allows a buyer system and a supplier eCommerce store to communicate. Once integrated, they can transfer procurement documents and data automatically.

Integration eliminates manual data entry and the inevitable errors caused by manual rekeying. It also enables a host of automation features that increase procurement productivity and efficiency for buyers and suppliers.

4. Automation

B2B automation leverages eProcurement integration to enhance the procurement experience. As we saw in the introduction, buyers are increasingly willing to abandon suppliers because of complicated procurement processes and poor purchasing experiences.

Procurement automation radically simplifies B2B transactions. Once a buyer’s eProcurement platforms are integrated with a supplier’s eCommerce store, they can benefit from automations that include:

With PunchOut2Go, suppliers can integrate any buyers’ eProcurement system. Our B2B Integrated Platform as a Service (iPaaS) supports all eProcurement systems and eCommerce stores. Once your eCommerce store is integrated with the iPaaS, you can provide PunchOut catalogs, purchase order automation, eInvoicing, and more to any buyer.

The PunchOut2Go iPaaS takes care of data exchange and software compatibility, making integration fast, inexpensive, and reliable. As we move into 2022, buyers expect suppliers to build on the advances made over the last two years of the pandemic. Procurement digitization and automation are here to stay. The PunchOut2Go iPaaS helps suppliers to build enduring relationships with buyers through integrated digital procurement and procurement automation. 

To learn more about how PunchOut2Go can help you to offer the superior procurement experience your buyers’ demand, complete the form below, and an integration expert will contact you soon.


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